Trade Beads

Trade beads are ornate glass beads that were originally used by Europeans worldwide as a medium of exchange. Native American trade bead jewelry and adornments were popular with tribes across the North American continent, coming into use through trade beginning in the 1500s. Trade beads were common in the fur industry and Lewis and Clark also used trade beads to do business with the cultures they encountered on their three-year journey westward. Historic American Indian trade beads can be found today threaded onto string for earrings or necklaces or plaited into braided adornments such as chokers. Occasionally, coins and silver beads are combined with Native American trade beads to make stunning jewelry.

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